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From Kermit to Tack—around and back!


My early life and early career in school leadership were greatly influenced by mentors. My parents were sturdy, duty culture types who vowed to break their families’ chains of poverty through hard work. And they did, creating an orderly home and teaching us to behave while always working hard. Our local public school teachers stepped in next.  Many of them were magnificent and a select few have remained frequent connections for me across multiple decades. Coaches were my next mentors as I came of age. After that, a handful of others from college and early career endeavors are memorable.


Elder (grandparent generation) influences were not possible for me until I was an adult due to my biological grandparents’ early deaths. Kermit Crosier and Roland “Tack” Nail appeared on the scene of my life separated by three decades from one another. These proxy grandfathers never met one another, but their modeling of essential traits for a happy life were very close to identical, and they echoed strong links to happiness and success espoused by my first teachers, coaches and parents.


My mentors’ actions and limited words (modeling and not preaching) constituted very effective teaching for me. Across all of my formative years, even well into adulthood, a small set of concepts for thriving in my time kept being repeated, even though these adult “anchors” were from different backgrounds and appeared at different times in my life.


Soon enough, I woke up one morning and was the one mentoring. Whether it was my own children, my students, young school leaders or newly ordained leaders of other organizations, I found myself pulling from the archives of those who showed me—those who taught me. I am fortunate that I always watched intently and occasionally got to discuss the wisdom personified by these profound influencers of the younger me.  When I began researching the importance of mentors, I quickly realized that choosing words to both describe what I learned and accommodate the huge number of concepts underlying my mentors’ teaching would take me to the library and the internet—to parenting books, happiness research and writings, and so much more.


Synonyms abound, and across the thousands of us linked through ZCS, various experiences of mentoring, culture, education, and more illuminate the best of all our treasured mentors. And here we all are, the ZCS anchor people alongside you, parents of our community’s youth.  Finding the key words expansive enough to accommodate all of this was a chore, but psychologists, experts on change, wellness gurus, and wise folks of many stripes helped.








That’s right, just five essential and perfectly elastic words capable of encompassing all of our collected lessons on thriving, earning, winning, learning losing, grieving, giving, falling, getting up, and more. These are limitless key words to grow on


So, is there more to know about Kermit and Tack?  You bet. Their stories and your mentor stories intersect. I’m certain that they do because of the common and simultaneously extraordinary ways in which mentors support us.  What story will you share that fits into one or more of these five descriptive word realms? How have those stories shaped and propelled you into supporting and mentoring others? Email us at: mentorstories@zcs.k12.in.us. We look forward to hearing from you,


Thanks for getting ready to help our schools and our community be Strong in Every Way.


Scott Robison, Ph.D.


Zionsville Community Schools

Winter 2017